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Welcome to Nadine's Class

Nadine ElmgrenWelcome to our Lower Elementary Classroom! We are a community of active explorers who joyfully spend our days together in an environment that nurtures our love of learning.

Nadine  Nadine@traversechildrenshouse.org

 "Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives;  education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment."  -Dr. Maria Montessori

Nadine Elmgren, Lower Elementary Guide
B.A. Marylhurst College, Portland, OR, Education
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Northwest Montessori Education Center, Portland OR
AMS Montessori Elementary Certification, Ottawa, Canada
The Children's House experience (1988- present):
Young Children's Community Guide, Primary Classroom Guide, Teacher Mentor & Elementary Classroom Guide

May 24, 2017

Bittersweet is the word that best expresses this time of year. Our classroom has a peaceful, industrious hum with students contentedly following up lessons. I can't get all the lessons in I want to before the year ends; I have so much I want to share with the children. No matter how quickly I go, I know that the calendar will beat me! I always am so surprised how fast the end of the school year approaches.

Despite the sadness that our special community won't ever be the same as dear friends move on, and shiny new faces enter come fall, I know that the cycle is as it ought to be. The oldest children are tall, with their mouths full of big teeth. They are proficient in so many areas! It is hard to remember the tiny first years that they were three years ago. Currently, they are so thrilled to know that they get to spend 2 nights at LOC next week, a right of passage that they have been greatly anticipating! They are ready to for new challenges that their next classrooms will bring, and their classmates are eager to be the "big cheeses". For now, we all get to savor the final days of our community, and all that it offers to each of us during this festive, fun filled time of the year.

May 11, 2017

It is almost impossible walking across the floor of our room this week as so many display boards are strewn about. We are in the final stages of work, with the goal of the week being completion of displays and art. Next week the children will come up with 3 key facts to share with others about their topic, and practice presenting so they are fine tuned for the big event. It is so gratifying to see the weeks of hard work coming together into such fine finished products!

Battle of the Books teams are meeting regularly and working on completing their reading lists. The children are serious about their commitment and it's neat to see them so focused around books! Our class just finished Lincoln, A Photobiography , which was full of fascinating history.

Earth Day outings were a great success! Stories from tree planting to weeding, hikes, games and viewing a dam being removed were all highlights. I am grateful for the opportunity for these children, who need to be mindful stewards of our Earth, to enjoy a day outside in celebration.

April 27, 2017

The research fair continues to dominate our classroom work. By now, the students have read their books and taken notes. The skill of picking out key points and then writing them using your own words is a process. Once all notes were taken, they were grouped into paragraphs. The work now is to organize each paragraph and write a rough draft. From there, we will look at editing and polished copies can be made. When you see what your child has completed on May 18th, the night of the Research Fair, you will be able to appreciate the many steps required to have a finished product!

Amelia Service initiated a group of interested students to do a dance on May Day where they will weave the colorful ribbons around the pole. Steve and Krisitina listened to her request and have been helping her to bring her idea to fruition by guiding practice time. Come join us to watch their dance in the courtyard on May 1st at 10:45!

We have been looking at the life cycle of a chicken egg and are excitedly optimistic about ours hatching early May. We will be candling the eggs this week, which ought to be telling. Fingers crossed!

April 13, 2017

I just love this time of the year in the classroom! The children are settled into a nice groove, working happily. The culture fair and battle of the books have a nice hum and the excitement of the talent show is in the air! Thanks to the McGregor family, we've fired up an incubator and are awaiting arrival of the eggs. Fingers crossed that we will have good luck with our endeavor this time around.

The other day a group of boys came running up to me with excitement, as they saw green shoots poking up through the soil from the daffodils we planted in November. I can't believe how quickly the time has passed, from those fall days, to the final months of the year. Watching the growth in your children does truly mark the passage of time. They have all flourished and blossomed alongside the daffodils and I feel fortunate to be a part of it all!

March 23, 2017

Happy Spring! We launched Battle of the Books! The children formed teams, chose their captains, team names and first books to read. Tara has done a wonderful job setting us up with a large selection of books for the children to use. I have asked them to please return them when they finish, so that they can be passed along to the next student. Enjoy reading aloud together or listening to audio books. There are some wonderful stories! As a class we are finishing up a novel about the underground railroad that the children are really enjoying. Our next book will be Lincoln which is on the Battle of the Book list.

We have begun conversation about the upcoming research fair that will take place May 18th. Some children have already chosen their topics and have begun reading! Right after break we will all be starting, so remind your child to brainstorm if they are still undecided so they can hit the ground running. If you have a chance and your child needs books, a trip to the library over break if you are in town would be wonderful. This undertaking in an annual favorite for the children and a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn in countless ways.

See you in April!

March 9, 2017

Thank you for your participation at conferences. Your perspective provides helpful insight. I know that by working together in partnership, we provide the richest experience possible for your child.

Rebecca Lessard's Wings of Wonder presentation was a delight this past week. I have grown to appreciate the knowledge base the children have from being a part of her annual visits. Its amazing what they retain from year to year, and then learn. Her question to them this year as they were sharing what they knew about raptors, was "what don't they know!" She brought a red tailed hawk, a kestrel and a turkey vulture to visit and the children were happy to see them like they were old friends.

The storytelling/writing workshops that we are a part of this week, kicked off to an exciting start in the barn with very entertaining tales. We have an opportunity to work with Jennifer for 3 mornings in our class to focus on writing and illustrating our own stories. On Friday, the children will have the opportunity to participate in a showcase to share their work. Thanks to DiAnn Service for organizing this great opportunity!

February 23, 2017

This past weekend I was fortunate to be able to attend the Association Montessori Internationale refresher course in Austin, Texas! I have a lot of new information spinning around in my head that will take awhile to digest, and ultimately implement with your children.

The Keynote address was given by Dr. Ross Greene. He spoke about Collaborative and Proactive Solutions to foster the better side of human nature in children and adults. His message was simple, but powerful and effective. I would encourage you to visit his website if you have a few minutes to become familiar with his work. I appreciate that it is a such a positive way to interact with our children to help sort out problems.

I am looking forward to meeting with each of you next week during conference time. You will be receiving your child's progress report before then too. If you haven't signed up yet, please do so on the school website.

February 9, 2017

This week Alison Breithaupt presented the opportunity to be a part of the upcoming President's Day Assembly. Much excitement was generated from her opportunity, and we had an abundance of eager participants. To be fair, we opted to draw names from a basket, to fill the spaces allotted to our class. The children are developing a sense of justice and morality at this age and have a heightened sense of making sure things run fairly. It is important to recognize their needs and make sure our mini society operates as a just and respectful community for all. The children do a wonderful job during our weekly classroom meetings, discussing and resolving concerns ranging from dirty dishes to figuring out an equitable way to share materials.

We are enjoying the novel Gertie's Leap to Greatness, one of this year's Newberry contenders. Gertie's story is giving us many discussion points as we read the pages together. Her struggles and determination have captivated us. The class is also loving listening to music during lunch time on Fridays. So far, Paddle to the Sea, has been a favorite and we have also enjoyed some music from the Underground Railroad.

January 26, 2017

January has been a whirlwind of activity so far: swimming lessons, the Spelling Bee (almost half of our class chose to participate), the Newberry award celebration, our Interlochen trip, a violin concert and the school carnival! What a vibrant community we are all fortunate to be a part of. I appreciate the diverse experiences we are exposed to, knowing that a spark of interest is bound to ignite for each of us, with the wide variety of offerings. Over the course of the year, everyone will have had chances to nurture a strength, discover a new passion and build muscles in challenging areas not only in our daily classroom work, but with all of the enrichment activities we participate in.

Biweekly individual meetings are an invaluable tool to stop and reflect. We think together about needs, interests, time management, goal setting and follow up work. I marvel at the honest self evaluation the students do and their open, genuine communication.

Multiple lessons with multiples are a current favorite. Students are discovering multiples of numbers, common multiples, and common multiples and prime numbers. All of the many steps in this work helps to cement their multiplication facts too!

January 12, 2017

We've settled back into a nice groove now that the newness of being back after break is over. There is some great work happening! Our first couple of days back we reviewed our class creed and talked about the balance of freedom and responsibility. This has helped to set a tone that has inspired everyone to do their personal best.

We welcomed Emily Modrall back from her maternity leave last week as well as welcoming Aylin Ellickson to our class. Aylin came to us from New Hampshire, where she was a first year student in a Lower Elementary class in a Montessori school.

As students are completing their handwriting books, they are being introduced to journals. There are daily writing prompts for journal entries and it is a great opportunity to practice sentence and paragraph writing.

December 15, 2016

We have been very fortunate to have Jana Gray and Angela Petty stepping in to cover Emily's maternity leave this fall. When school resumes after break, Emily will be back through lunch and Angie will continue her afternoon time with us. Many thanks to Jana for her willingness to jump in and offer us all wonderful support!

Our grand finale, The Worldwide Celebrations of Light presentations , will take place on Friday. The children have all been busy, reading, writing, creating props, and baking. It will be a lot of fun to travel the globe and celebrate with each group as they share their work.

Every morning after graphing the sunrise and sunset times, we light a candle and discuss a quote. Our quotes have primarily been focused on caring, hope, goodness and love. The conversations and thoughts that have been generated are so dear; what a lovely way to start our days together. The sincere, earnest faces and voices of your children illuminated in candlelight have filled my heart with optimism and peace. May each of your families be touched with that same beauty over the winter days ahead. Happy Holidays!

December 1, 2016

In preparation for our harvest feast, we read several versions of the Stone Soup story. The children were then invited to write their own versions of the story and some of them chose to sit in our Author's chair and present their work to the class. Creative writing is an exciting new work choice and the children are learning to write with the structure of including some common literary terms in their stories such as setting, main character, protagonist and more. I am sure you will be hearing some renditions at home too!

This week we have begun talking about the upcoming solstice and how throughout history, people have welcomed the return of the sun after the shortest day of the year. Each morning, we are graphing the sunrise and sunset times. We are beginning our research on worldwide celebrations of light such as Kwanza, Diwali, St Lucia. Each child is a part of a group and I look forward to seeing where their interests take them over the next couple of weeks as they work towards a presentation on our final day before break.

We had an introductory lesson on plate tectonics recently. This will lead us into lessons about the formation of mountains. It is nice to see how all of the prior stories about the earth's formation have given the children such a great basis of knowledge to build upon.

November 10, 2016

I so enjoyed having time to meet with you this past week to reflect together on your child's experience at school. The level of engagement, thought and support given to your child is truly exceptional. As we all know, the job of parent is a demanding one and the goal of having a healthy and mature connection with our children is lofty, thus taking the time to step back and reflect is essential. Many of us discussed the benefits of repetition in aiding the memorization of math facts. I suggested the use of games or apps to assist and one popular app is Sum Dog. Keeping learning fun is key with this work!

We have talked about the function of a leaf as the food factory for the plant. Different leaf types are being discussed and collections are being made, while we still have leaves to gather!

Our third Great Lesson, The Coming Of Human Beings took place this week. This story opens the door to history and gives perspective to all that came before humans appearance. We will continue on talking about the needs of people and all of the different ways that people have met their needs for survival.

October 27, 2016

The recent history lesson on the long Black Strip gave us all an exciting impression on the time that humans have been on the earth relative to the earth itself, and the plants and animals that populated the earth before them. The children love imagining time from long ago and have been following up these stories by studying the earth and prehistoric life forms. Currently, Pompeii is an exciting topic of conversation!

We have been talking about seeds since so many plants outside are going to seed around us. We have looked at different seed types, the parts of a seed and how seeds travel. All of the children will have an opportunity to go on a trip to a local farm over the course of the year as a part of our Della Terra program. Last week's trip took the children to a vineyard and chestnut farm where they were very impressed with the outside covering of the chestnut and all the work it took to get to the meat inside.

It was wonderful to see all of you at Parent's Visiting Day. Thank you so much for taking the time to dive into the life of your child at school. They are so proud to share their work with you. I look forward to talking with each of you during conferences next week.

October 12, 2016

The second Great Lesson, The Coming of Life, has sparked great interest. The Timeline of Life has been stretched out across the classroom floor and many students are eager to draw their own. We have had some great follow up discussions while looking at the wealth of information contained on the timeline. Some of the children are interested in matching fossils to the timeline as well.

Many of the stories and lessons in the elementary curriculum use impressionistic charts as visual extensions. The children have been enjoying writing their version of the stories and then painting or drawing the charts. It is great to hear the conversations while they work. Most recently, we have been discussing the composition of the Earth. Curiosity as to why the Earth gets hotter as you travel to the core and how one could make a device that would be able to sample the material in the core are some of the nuggets I recently overheard!

September 29, 2016

Do you know a megalodon was 35 feet long and that a moray eel can be up to 10 feet in length? These are the facts being shared with such excitement as the children are eagerly diving into research projects. The skills of reading, note taking, sentence writing, editing, and for some, paragraph formation are being honed while the children are very engaged with a topic they are genuinely wanting to know more about. Trips to the public library are happening as these researchers need information and just the process of filling in an outing slip and the accountability of returning it in a timely fashion is a great lesson before they even get started. The children will have the opportunity to make an art project with Alison to go along with their work. Upon the completion of it all, they will present their studies to the group. I feel so fortunate to learn alongside them and be able to absorb all of their wonder and curiosity about the world around them!

Weekly math sheets are a daily focus. Some children are working on them independently, while others benefit from group work with an adult. Constant repetition with mathematical processes not only aids in understanding, but in fact memorization as well.

September 15, 2016

So many "firsts" of the year are behind us, and our room is settling in to a lovely routine a bit more each day. The older students are generously supporting their new classmates and are thrilled at the opportunity to be teachers too! We have had a lot of meetings to establish the culture of our room, discussing the balance of freedoms and responsibilities and how that looks. Together, we have written and signed the following class creed"

-We will celebrate our accomplishments so that we feel happy and joyous
-We want to feel strong, energetic and athletic so we will participate in daily physical education and recess
-We want to be hard workers and be able to focus so we are going to respect classmates who are working by being quiet and leaving them alone
-We will follow up on lessons and choose work that is not easy so that we all feel happy, included, trusted, supported and accepted and can have many different friends
-We want to feel safe so we will be find to each other move carefully in the classroom and have emergency plans
-We will be good listeners, being open to each other's words, giving eye contact and waiting until it's our turn to speak so that we all feel listened to

Last week the first Great Lesson, the Creation Story was told. Imaginations have been sparked, routines settling in, I think we are posed for a great year ahead!

This page last updated on 5/23/2017.

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Room Parents

Julie Boss

Virginie Kanner

Classroom Support

Emily Modrall

Emily Modrall


Angela Petty

Angela Petty


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5363 N Long Lake Rd. | Traverse City, MI | 49685 (p) 231.929.9325 | (f) 231.929.9384 | email: learn@traversechildrenshouse.org